The oneness of existence

This project investigates the design implications of human tissue engineering. In this emerging strand of biotechnology, grafts of human tissue grow in vitro on a three-dimensional scaffold. I envision that tissue engineering will open up new aes-thetic and perceptual possibilities within design. The realisation that our cells can be made to grow into artificially designed forms can lead us to a new frontier. We will be able to derive objects from ourself. And these ob-jects will share the exact same material properties and genetic codes of our bodies. I believe this means that the socially coded distinctions between man and objects will collapse. We are exploring the formation of a new class of objects, ‘semi-human’ ob-jects. A new kind of existence that is part-object and part-human. The formation of semi-human objects has serious implications for ethics and philoso-phy. I propose that we are faced with a new vision of ‘the sublime’, the experience of the awe-inspiring, the unsettling, disturbing caused by the inseparable relationship be-tween you and the object. The project was conducted both in the lab (from the scientific perspective) and as a conceptual design practice (to bring in the speculative perspective), in order to arrive at an overall understanding of the limitations and possibilities of tissue engineering in design.

Hongjie Yang

Photo by Femke Rijerman